She hasn't changed. My first thoughts as I walked into the restaurant where we had agreed to meet. Hasn't changed much at all since we first met when she was 16 and I a self conscious 17.

She sat as she always sat in public places, elbows on the table head hanging forward and slightly down, black fringe hanging in front of her eyes shielding her from the outside stares of others. She still generates that aura I felt the first time I met her. That has changed, matured, got added complexity. Instead of the fast frantic buzz of youth and energy, there is now a deeper, slower, more nuanced feeling about her caused I suppose by three children and a number of grandchildren.

If you listen long enough to her silence the other experiences of life are there as almost sub themes so instead of a sort of tune by a single instrument there are all sorts of instruments adding to the cacophony of her presence and believe me she has presence.

Each time we meet after and separation I would notice the difference in the timbre of her presence and I would listen to her stories and the changes would more or less account for the subtle changes I could detect in her. We hadn't talked, met or even spoken in some years.

A lover had objected to my presence in her life and she had, as she had done on previous occasions, sacrificed me for the health of her latest relationships. The relationships didn't last long, two, three sometimes four years, then I would get a call and I would, like a trained puppy, come runing, tail wagging to be rewarded with a couple of months of her life, then I would be ditched and a new lover added to the list that included ambassadors, vagabonds, hippies, artists, poets and business men. Only a few were allowed to let their seed take root in her fertile body. One child was the progeny of a high flying business man who lasted long enough to become addicted to her presence, sow his seeds, have his proposal of marriage rejected and then sent on his way with scant explanation.

She did not demand support but he paid. If he had stopped paying, she would most likely not have have noticed. The hippy lasted the longest, nearly four years and she supported him and let him inseminate her. I am not sure who fathered the last of the three, but he was a wild red head who would either die young, raddled by drugs and disease or die old and venerated as the founder, the dynamo of a new movement or company or political party.

She has this policy or rule which says that you only get one chance to share her secret garden, once ejected, you can never return, but like all good rules there is an exception. Me.

After she ditched her current lover, I would get a phone call and would drop all to be at her side; much like this current situation. The fires of lust still burned hard in my body, I still wanted her, needed her and would if told to, die for her. She had though given me a less spectacular task, just be there when she needed me.

We had met at a party that one of her friends who had a friend of a friend knew about. In otherwords she was a gatecrasher, but she was so spectacularly magnificent, so present so sexy, so assured that she and her entourage would be quickly accepted and welcomed in as honoured guests.

Me? I had been a late addition to the invite list that had circulated at the school. It was to be the party of the year. Only the very best, brightest finest were to be invited.

The rest of us mere mortals were fed crumbs of stories of how it was to be. Then one day, as I am wont to do, I did something that drew the attention of the glitterati to me. I saved the life of a famous person. How did I do that? Simple, I was a lifesaver, I was on duty, he got pissed, started showing off, got into trouble so I hauled him out of the sea, got him breathing again, dodged his vomit and then fought his spin doctors to a standstill when they tried to stop him going to hospital. The threat of secondary drowning and him collapsing dead in twenty four hours eventually won the day.

So there I was at the party, after telling my story a dozen times in excruciating detail, I was left to my own devices. I had more or less decided that I had seen enough of the party to know that I would probably drink too much, get loud, arrogant and derogatory and be tossed out unceremoniously. I was heading for the door when the gate crashers walked in, gently pushing people aside in a sort of invasion. The leader a tall willowy creature of indeterminate sex tried to get passed me by looking over my head and gently pushing. So I gently pushed back and kept on walking for the door, with my shoulder in his chest. This had the effect of stopping the invasion in its tracks. Finally we could go no further, he was backed up against his phalanx of supporters and I could not get to the door through the mass of bodies.

I looked up at him, smiled and said, "You know if you get out of my way, I can go home and you can, ah, do whatever it is you intend doing."

I suspect it was the smile that did it, cos he stepped aside and I started heading for the door. The crowd parted like the waters of the Red Sea before Moses until I got to the door. A raven headed woman stood there, unmoving. Sixteen she was but already a woman, you could see it in her eyes. Power, compassion, lust for life, everything I prized. She smiled, her eyes twinkling, laughing.

"You've stopped. I was looking forward to being ploughed by you."

The double meaning flashed through my mind, she could not be serious. She hadn't intended what she had just said, I was sure of that and I wasn't going to make a fool of myself by following through and then having to explain and then having oohs and aahhhs, about my bad behaviour.

"You should choose your words more carefully. I could very easily have misinterpretted that sentence and ended up being chasitised for vulgarity, while you blushed prettily in a corner."

Her smile spread, her eyes and for the first time I heard her aura, it buzzed in my ears, against my body, into my soul.
"I don't blush prettily, I blush when I orgasm.”

Oh, dear. In for a penny in for a pound.

"You would have to prove that to me."

"Only with the greatest of pleasure. Do you want to watch or are you gonna help me?"

"I am going to watch, so that the next time I know what to do."

"Who says there is to be a next?"

"I do. While you are recovering, I will be able to sneak in and try out the new things I have learnt."

I held my breath, everyone held their breath. Her aura beat against my body, I felt an erection starting.

The willowy creature suddenly sprung into action, "You can't say things like that to a lady."

"I am not a lady and he is special, he can say anything he cares to me. Now piss off. And you," looking at me, "are you coming or not."

"After you ma'am."

She threw her head back and laughed and we left the party. That is how I managed to take her virginity, fall obsessively in love and lock myself into a cycle of longing and fulfilment that has lasted decades and, to an extent defined the rest of my life.

She dumped me after three months for the willowy creature and I lived in a hell of my own making, until about six months later. She phoned. "Pleae meet me, I need you." I resisted, for at least an hour, I resisted, then I ran puppy like to her lap and her bed. The sex was better, more nuanced. We had bothe been practicing. Two months and she was gone again leaving me bereft again, more in love and hooked.

So it went, year in, year out, each time we reconnected, her aura had changed gradually as life took it toll but it was always beautiful to me.

Over the years, she produced three children but none of mine. I tried many many times to impregnate her, get her with child, knock her up, whatever you like to call it, but she never fell pregnant. And it was not through lack of trying on my part. My sex drive in overdrive demanded to be with her, in her, holding her, touching her, being absorbed by her. It just never took.

Now she is beyond all that and it will never happen. My body has yet to get to grips with that fact. It still wants her, badly. I ached to hold the fruit of bodies in my arms, watch a child of ours grow and blossom. I still do, I visit her other children and grandchildren, good old uncle Ron.

Now we sit opossite each other in a restaurant, like so many times before we indulge on a short, glorious, but ill fated affair again.

But this time it is different. She has a different air about her, her aura has a wistful, sad, almost grieving feel to it. She holds my right hand in hers, the electric tickle rages up my arm, we both feel it, she smiles gently.

"I am dying." She looks sort of embarrassed.

"You are? Tell me? Details?"

She talks I listen. I forget the details in the mounting horror of what she is saying.
"I have six months to live." She ends up saying.

I suck a lung full of air.
"The doctors say I must make my farewells, wind up my life."

I nod. "Who have you told?"

"Just you."


"I don't know how to start."

"Your children, obviously, go talk to them. They deserve your honesty, they need to adjust too."

"Yes, I know, but I have a terrible confession to make first, so I can die in peace. Telling the children and friends will be easy in comparison to the that confession."

"Who do you need to talk to? Who is it that you are so afraid of hurting, that you have done such a grave injustice to that you cannot do anything till you have confessed to over and above your family?"

She sat looking at her hands for a while, then a single tear, trickled down her nose and dropped onto the table. We both sat looking at it as a mounting unease started growing in me.

"No." I broke the silence. "You have NOTHING to confess to me. Nothing."

Horror and terror and compassion raged through my head. "Nothing. I love you, you have done nothing that I didn't agree to, that I didn't accept as part of our love. Nothing."

She held her finger against my lips, shook her head. "Listen. Please. Just listen. This is hard enough as it is."

I shut up.

"I have always been afraid of being totally consumed, of disappearing into the gravity well of another person. Ever since I was tiny when no one noticed me because my siblings were bigger, prettier, stronger, noisier than I was. I wanted to exist, to be, and anyone powerful enough to keep up with me, was powerful enough to absorb me, destroy who I am. Leave me just a husk, an adornment. Of all the men I met only one was a real threat to my existence. Like a moth to a candle I danced in and then dodged away. I had love affairs, but they always paled into insignificance and I found myself coming back to you, again and again, and again. Each time I called you, I expected you to reject me, set me free. But you didn't, you just kept coming back to me each time. And after a while I could feel myself being absorbed and I would run again."

"Well that explains our strange relationship, but I stayed in it, eyes open. Nothing you need to confess. The explanation is interesting but not earth shattering."

"If it were that simple it would not be that bad, but it is. You see, there was one thing that I believed would tie me to you forever and which I believed would cause me to be annexed by you completely and I would cease to exist."

"What on earth could that be? We have shared everything."

"Not children. I prevented that from happening. I had a number of abortions. You planted seed in me and they started to grow and I destroyed them. I was so afraid. And now? Now I am dying and all I want to do is leave you a part of me and you to remind you of our love and I have denied us both that through stupid fear."

Six months later, I held her hand as she lay dying. Her last words were, "Sorry." and the wonderful aura I had lived in for much of my adult life faded and was gone.